I used to be extremely cynical. My mind was constantly occupied with everything wrong in the world, and stuck in negative, repetitive thought loops that made me depressed. Over time I learned how to transform this into a positive mindset where I'm primarily optimistic.

If you're a cynical person it's likely because you're rational. Many of the observations you've made about the wrong in the world are probably correct. This means your cynicism has reasoning behind it, therefore not being cynical must mean you're in denial, right?

That's what I thought. But from further analysis I realised my cynicism painted a heavily biased picture of reality that was not only destructive to myself, but also impeded my efforts to make a difference.

The brain is hardwired for negativity

Survival is the brain's most important function. As a result it's always watching for danger and we tend to notice more negative things than positive. This means your assessment of reality is typically worse than it really is.

One way to bypass the brain's negativity bias is through gratitude training. By deliberately focusing on positive things you're grateful for, you're hard-wiring your brain to focus on the positive instead of the negative. Doing this on a frequent basis can have a significant impact on your happiness and optimism.

The world isn't as bad as we think it is

Yes, there's many fucked up things in the world. But there's also a lot of good things. It's two sides of the same coin since we live in a world of duality. But things today are objectively significantly better than they used to be.

For instance, today we have technology that enables most of the world to live in abundance. A lower class person today has access to things even the richest people didn't a century ago.

Or think about the amount of conflict and wars compared to our ancestors. Human society has become more peaceful and accepting today than ever, with significantly more acceptance for our differences such as race or sexuality.

There's plenty more examples I could list, but you get the point. If you look into it you'll realise things aren't as bad as they seem.

Being cynical is counterproductive

When faced with any situation, you can either accept it or change it. Anything else is futile.

By focusing on the negative things in the world, you're doing neither. Resisting what is takes a huge toll on your sanity, which makes you depressed. And not only does this make you unhappy, it also disables you from taking the action required to make the world a better place in the first place.

Therefore even if you believe your cynicism is valid, it's still counterproductive. It makes no sense to think that way.

The process of changing

Everything you do are habits, including your thoughts. Therefore being cynical is merely a habitual set of thought patterns you're stuck in. Changing them will probably take some time.

In both my experience and a close friend's, after about 6 months of digesting inspiring/positive content, and practising mindfulness to intercept negative thought loops, we ended up shifting our mindsets from extreme cynicism to something primarily optimistic.

Sure, I still have days where I feel hopeless and cynical, but now that's uncommon. And with more practice I expect to improve my mindset even further. You can do the same.